Stories have been circulating about patients being unable to acquire the new flu vaccine, but the NHS denies that there is a shortage, according to The Guardian
While there have been reports across the country of dwindling flu vaccine supplies, the NHS has denied any kind of shortage, assuring the nation that there is enough of the new and improved vaccine to go around.
The adjuvanted trivalent (aTIV) vaccine has proven to be more effective and is recommended for those over 65, but deliveries have been spread out as there is only one supplier of the drug. This has led to some being unable to acquire the jab when they want it.
The concern is understandable, as last year’s flu season was the worst in seven years. Anne Shankland, 73, from Winchester, said: “My GP isn’t offering it until early November and local pharmacies say they don’t know when they will get it.
“Even at that rate, it’s going to take two to three weeks to take effect. So after we’ve queued up to get into a clinic we will end up being dumped out into the middle or beginning of the flu season.”
An NHS England spokesperson responded to complaints:
“GPs and pharmacists were given more than two months to order the vaccine. There is more than enough to meet expected demand and what’s more, older people will be better protected this year than ever before as they will be offered the most effective jab available anywhere in the world, and we expect pharmacists and GPs to get everyone vaccinated before the end of the year when flu usually hits.”
The health service has insisted that there will be enough of the vaccine for all, and that patients need not panic. Leyla Hannbeck, the director of pharmacy at the National Pharmacy Association, commented that the system had not been as responsive this season as it was in previous years, meaning some people haven’t received the protection they want against flu as early as they normally would.
“This is disappointing for pharmacists, who pride themselves on providing an extremely convenient service,” she added. “But it is not too late to get vaccinated and we encourage anyone in an at-risk group to ask their local pharmacist or GP.”
The BMA added that patients and practices were “understandably frustrated by the problems caused by the necessary phased supply of influenza vaccination this year”, but Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, added that they should be reassured that there are adequate supplies of the vaccine.
“While we understand the concerns that patients over the age of 65, who should receive the aTIV vaccine, may have it is better for patients to wait to be given the most effective vaccination,” he said.
He added that public health bodies must do more to keep patients informed about this staggered approach to vaccine delivery.